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Looking down on the surprisingly blue water and sandy shores of Big Glen Lake, she can see why it is called Inspiration Point. The view across the lake and dunes is certainly inspiring, and with her whole vacation stretching in front of her - like the expanse of Lake Michigan's waters at her back - she'll have time to explore it all. Big Glen Lake, Little Glen Lake and the dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore promise a spectacular northwest Michigan getaway. Add the history of the Great Lakes, and maybe she is wrong; maybe there could never be enough time to enjoy everything the Glen Lakes have to offer.
Gouged out by glacial erosion during the last ice age, Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake were originally connected to Lake Michigan. Over time, sand filled in the space between the lakes creating a sandbar separating Lake Michigan from the Glen Lakes. Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake are hydrologically the same. Obviously larger, Big Glen Lake to the east covers 4,871 surface acres and has a maximum depth of 130 feet. It is a rounded lake with a sandy shoreline and is surrounded with wooded areas and rolling dunes.
There is more than enough water to boat, swim and water-ski, and Big Glen Lake is also popular with anglers. The lake is oligotrophic with crystal clear, blue water, but it still supports healthy populations of fish. The yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and northern pike are prevalent, and there are abundant populations of both brown trout and lake trout. Access to the lake is from one of several private marinas or from the public boat ramp on Little Glen Lake. The Glen Lakes are connected by a narrow channel that runs under the bridge that crosses the lakes.
Big Glen Lake is slightly east of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Established in 1970 to preserve the dunes that rise 110 feet above Lake Michigan, the park includes 31 miles of the shore of Lake Michigan as well as both north and south Manitou Islands. In addition to climbing the dunes, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers spectacular views of the dunes, Lake Michigan and Manitou Islands and has an overlook looking down on the Glen Lakes. The seven and a half mile long driving loop is open to traffic from April through November.
Also part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, the sandbar that separates Lake Michigan from Big Glen Lake currently holds a campground and Glen Haven a historic village. Glen Haven was a steamboat stop operating from 1865 through 1931. Originally called Sleeping Bearville, it was a natural harbor for the steamships that traveled from Chicago to Buffalo. Today visitors can tour the restored general store, listen to the blacksmith hammer at his forge in the blacksmith shop, and tour the museum in the former cherry and apple cannery.
Big Glen Lake is near the town of Glen Arbor. The town has restaurants, shops and a variety of accommodations as well as real estate available for sale. There are also vacation rentals ranging from cabins to large single family homes on the shores of Big Glen Lake any of which would be the perfect base from which to explore the nearby hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. In the winter, there are cross country ski and snowmobile trails nearby as well as hunting.
The amazingly clear blue water and white sand shores have earned Big Glen Lake the self proclaimed title of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is the rich history, spectacular sand dunes and abundant fishing, however, which will have visitors returning again and again to this northwest Michigan gem.
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